Guest Column: A Better Strategy for Addressing Jails During a Pandemic



The Victoria Advocate- For better or worse, catastrophes offer opportunities one would never have under normal circumstances. Or as politician Rahm Emanuel often says, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This concept has been implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, as bail reform advocates push for the release of large numbers of the jail population on the grounds of compassion.

Over the last month, reformers have bullied elected officials with threats of litigation unless their demands for large-scale release were met. Advocates have even taken the offensive, asking federal courts to order the release of inmates through the filing of lawsuits. But their urgency may well be misplaced. According to a recent Reuter’s story, 96 percent of the inmate population that tested positive for the coronavirus in Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia jails showed no symptoms.

The COVID-19 crisis cannot be treated as some sort of “get-out-of-jail-free card.” 

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